Damaged Inc. (Metallica Tribute Band) Review
As Gary Schofield said to the rest of his striptease act “Lads hold on to your hats” because this week is going to be somewhat unusual for two reasons. Firstly I am going to be unconditionally positive an event which happens as often as Cthulhu popping round to his local. Also I am reviewing an unsigned band which is absolutely mad considering the majority of metal bands are below the ‘enlightened’ perceptions of mainstream society; an unsigned metal band is going to be more illusive than Mrs Claus’ G-Spot. So forgive me if this turns out to be on the same lines as describing a Van Gough painting to a blind man with partial hearing.
So Damaged Inc are a tribute band to metal band and overall superegos Metallica, taking their name from the song Damage, Inc featured on the Master of Puppets album. Now whenever someone mentions tribute act to me I picture a middle aged man poorly impersonating Elvis at Butlins, or countless ABBA tribute acts - the type that make you wish you were living in Texas with their unbelievably lax gun laws so that you could buy a revolver and shoot the place up. But then that underused and famished creature that lurks in my brain otherwise known as optimism reminds me that Tim Owens the sometime singer for Judas Priest and Iced Earth started his career in a Judas Priest tribute band known as British Steel, and that Black Sweden (Metal ABBA tribute) and Beatallica (Beatles and Metallica tribute) are fucking awesome bands.
DI is compromised of Martain Doyle - Rhythm guitar and vocals, Ewan Metcalfe - Lead guitar and backing vocals, Kev Alderson - Drums and Merky Brimacombe -Bass guitar and backing vocals (Though when I saw them live they had a different bassist but who the fuck cares). Covering a great many of Metallica’s classic backlog including: One, Whiplash, Master of Puppets and Seek and Destroy, with Martain sounding a hell of a lot like James Hetfield (yes I understand that’s the point, shut up) made for a surreal experience where I’m confident if you closed your eyes you could picture yourself watching the genuine article in crowds of the unwashed with some bastard purposely flicking his fucking hair in your face…oh wait never mind.
I begrudgingly went to see the band play at a local rock bar, which is never a great move as my disgust for my fellow man is well documented but whenever I go to a bar or club it transcends to the House of Blue Leaves battle from Kill Bill. It’s as if some celestial being took the worst aspects of the Human condition and Frankensteined them into a single idea. Initially the crowd surrounding the stage would have made even Dead Rising look conservative but Christ midway through their set it became like selling ASBOs on a typical British housing estate, I’ve seen cans of sardines that had more breathing space. Of course from the band’s perspective this would have been only a good thing showing they were doing something right, but for me it was as awkward as going to a Catholic Church in a suit made entirely of used condoms, which is my only grievance regarding the entire event.
Actually one thing that should be brought up is that some of the guitar work was particularly slapdash on a couple of songs namely One and Whiskey in the Jar coming across as rather obtuse. However committing to the bizarre idea of being positive has forced me to be willing to overlook this fact which is just as well as the playing wasn’t bedraggled enough to be detrimental to their overall performance.
The most important aspect of DI was the fact that they captured the raw energy of Metallica’s heyday performances, elevating them from ‘look I have a guitar and access to ultimateguitar.org’ status to levels worthy of the actual band, and finding a tribute act that can manage this is like trying to find fidelity in John Terry’s dictionary. The majority of the audience were fixated in the same way that Simon Cowell is with being a complete and utter cunt. I mentioned previously that the singing was pitch perfect, well the rest of the band were also commendable, though this is significantly less of an achievement as matching the vocal style but still an important attribute. Thankfully the members didn’t seem to be aiming to be doppelgangers. While emulating your heroes music wise is perfectly acceptable adopting their appearance is downright creepy. Martain managed to convey the confidence required to set the atmosphere without ever appearing arrogant, quintessentially making DI Metallica without the egos, well unless they are so dedicated in their tribute that they’ve decided to recreate scenes from Some Kind of Monster in their spare time.
As ever this is the space I use to come to a conclusion, and as ever you don’t need to be Nostradamus to predict what follows. Pushing two hours and resulting in my body feeling as though I had stayed the night at Kobe Bryant’s, make of that what you will, the gig was worth the entrance fee that they didn’t charge. These words to me are what “squeal like a pig” were to Bobby Trippe but I whole heartedly recommend that you check out Damaged Inc. Of course only if you enjoy the music of Metallica which is an important factor being that DI are a fucking TRIBUTE BAND, and my advisors inform me that unfortunately people still have the freedom to herald opinions different to my own. And now drawing to a close feeling somewhat dilapidated I’ll use these closing statements to express my impertinent hatred of Lars Ulrich and describe him as the man with a smile akin to that of the local paedophile after being asked to carpool for the under ten’s ballet club.